"Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs."The Boy Scouts current excludes gays from units, a long-standing policy that has frustrated LGBTQ advocates. If the Boy Scouts changes its policy, it would free troops to accept members of different sexual orientations.
The news comes after several corporate donors (including Merck, UPS, and Intel) have refused to contribute money to the Boy Scouts because of its ban on gays. It also follows several high-profile cases of discrimination, including a teenage boy who was denied Eagle Scout rank for being gay and a troop leader who was removed from her post for being lesbian.
Predictably, the Religious Right is revolted by the idea. First, in a January 28th press release, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins urged Boy Scouts of America to resist pressure from "the bullying of homosexual activists". He correlated the ban on gay members with "moral integrity". (See www[dot]frc[dot]org/newsroom/frc-boy-scouts-should-stand-firm-in-its-moral-values-resist-pressure-to-change-homosexuality-policy)
"The Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality. What has changed in terms of the Boy Scouts' concern for the well-being of the boys under their care? Or is this not about the well-being of the Scouts, but the funding for the organization?Also, in a January 28th alert, the Family Research Council urged supporters to contact Boy Scouts of America before its upcoming board meeting and support its ban on gays. (See www[dot]frc[dot]org/alert/breaking-news-will-the-boy-scouts-stand-up-to-bullies)
The Boy Scouts has for decades been a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States. Sadly, their principled stances have marked them as a target for harassment by homosexual activists and corporations such as UPS which are working to pressure the Boy Scouts into abandoning their historic values.
The mission of the Boy Scouts is 'to instill values in young people' and 'prepare them to make ethical choices,' and the Scout's oath includes a pledge 'to do my duty to God' and keep himself 'morally straight.' It is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct."
In a January 29th commentary at his website, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler lamented that the Boy Scouts might "surrender to massive public pressure". He called the increasing acceptance of LGBTQ people "the reversal in one generation of a moral consensus that had endured for thousands of years". (See www[dot]albertmohler[dot]com/2013/01/29/morally-straight-the-transformation-of-the-boy-scouts-of-america/)
"The Boy Scouts will soon face the same challenge seen in much of the United States military. The conservative segments of the population most opposed to the normalization of homosexuality are also the segments that have historically provided the vast majority of those who volunteer to serve in the military. The Boy Scouts of America is prepared to surrender to massive public pressure and to set itself against the majority of its own members. Remember that just six months ago the B.S.A. chief executive said that the current policy was supported by “the vast majority of the parents of the youth we serve.”In a January 28th post at the American Family Association's Rightly Concerned blog, Bryan Fischer warned the Boy Scouts against "capitulation to the forces of sexual deviancy". He claimed that gays sexually abuse children at higher rates, ignoring research to the contrary. (See www[dot]afa[dot]net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147531729)
Those parents and sponsoring organizations, including thousands of churches, were no match for the political clout of the gay rights movement. This should serve as a sobering indication of the cultural momentum behind the current moral revolution — the reversal in one generation of a moral consensus that had endured for thousands of years ... Faithful Christians are left in the excruciatingly difficult position of maintaining fidelity to moral judgments revealed in the Bible while the culture around us races in the opposite direction. While the Boy Scouts use language like “morally straight,” the church uses its own language of sin, grace, and obedience."
"If the Scouts do not reverse themselves, we will soon be reading the kind of horror stories about Scouting that we have read about in the Catholic Church. Homosexual pedophiles already seek to infiltrate scouting because it provides a target rich environment for their twisted desires. Abolishing the sexual orientation standard will turn every Boy Scout in America into vulnerable prey for the sexually deviant."Finally, in a January 29th article at American Thinker entitled "The Boy Scouts: A Deal with Gay Activists?", Dan Nagasaki and Glenn Doi oppose the idea of gay scout leaders but insist it has nothing to do with homophobia. Rather, they claim that placing someone in a leadership position overseeing "impressionable, and sometimes troubled or sexually-confused boys or girls" where sexual tension might exist is inappropriate. (See www[dot]americanthinker[dot]com/blog/2013/01/the_boy_scotus_dealing_with_gay_activists.html)
A common theme runs through many of these statements: the incorrect claim that gay men are more likely to perpetrate abuse. Whether the language is subtle ("concern for the well-being of the boys under their care") or brazen ("homosexual pedophiles" seeking victims for their "twisted desires"), the ugly stereotype of gays as predators is unmistakable. This kind of hateful rhetoric demonizes gays, ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ persons are not predators. Moreover, such rhetoric ignores the real correlates of sexual abuse -- abuse that the Boy Scout's policy of excluding gays did not prevent. If Religious Right figures were genuinely concerned about abuse in the Boy Scouts, they would focus on real abuse prevention instead of scapegoating gays.
Whether the Boy Scouts retains or drops its no-gays policy, the fact that it is publicly reconsidering the policy is progress. The world is evolving on LGBTQ issues, to the Religious Right's dismay. I expect the Religious Right to fume like this every time a major organization abandons an unfair policy or adopts an LGBTQ-affirming stance. And, I expect more and more people to see through their homophobic rhetoric.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Right Wing Watch: Bryan Fischer Explodes: 'Not One Loving Father' Should Entrust Son to the Boy Scouts if Gays Are Included
Christian Science Monitor: Will Change on Gays Allow Boy Scouts to Recapture Role in Society?
The Atlantic: The Real Story Behind the Boy Scouts' Gay-Ban Reversal Is a Human Story